Friendship and foolery on the river.
Most days on the water get off to a promising start, and so does MacIver’s. Yak and Gnu head out for some good time in their crafts. “Yak in a kayak, blackberry black, / Gnu in a blueberry-blue canoe, / sing a sea song that’s sung by two: / ... / No one else / but you and me / can float a boat / or sail the sea.” Chapman’s ink-and-watercolor artwork has a spring-fresh quality, as if she were capturing the scene while lying along a riverbank with her sketch pad in the early-season sun. Cumulatively—though the counting is a give-or-take proposition here—other river rats join in, working their way into an armada, all kinds of crazy crafts that end in an oceangoing liner filled with...yaks and gnus. Good, goofy fun, that. But some of the action is not just cockamamie, it’s off its rocker: “A snazzy snail setting sail...” except snazzy snail is in a motorboat. “A snail! A calf! Jumpin’ jive!” Jive what? Nobody jivin’ here. It does, however, rhyme with five. And though some of the couplets take wing—“a stout pig afloat / on an outrigger boat, / and a rat and her clan / on a catamaran!”—others just don’t fit into their surroundings, like that “laughing calf / aboard a raft.”
There is a measure of charm, but it’s light fare—not enough to make a streamside picnic. (Picture book. 3-6)